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James McLean Changes Allegiances to Republic

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Post by MBTGOG Mon 08 Aug 2011, 10:29 am

http://www.rte.ie/sport/soccer/2011/0808/mccleanj_ireland.html

Winger James McClean has confirmed his intention to switch allegiance to the Republic of Ireland after claiming he is on the verge of a move to Barclays Premier League club Sunderland.

McClean last night pulled out of Nigel Worthington's Northern Ireland squad for Wednesday's night's "must win" Euro 2012 qualifier against the Faroes Islands amid speculation over a move from Derry to the north east.

And the 22-year-old has confirmed his plan to make himself available for the Republic despite playing at youth level for Northern Ireland.

"It was a blow seeing Irish League players being called up before me to the Northern Ireland squad, but having got the call I was relieved," McClean said in the Belfast Telegraph.

"However, it's always been my dream to play for the Republic and hopefully that will become a reality now that I'm going to be a Sunderland player."

McClean becomes the latest player to turn his back on Northern Ireland, taking advantage of a FIFA ruling that allows players from the island of Ireland to choose which national side they represent providing they have not played for the other in a competitive senior international.

Dan Devine, Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy, Marc Wilson, Daniel Kearns and Paul George have made the switch before him.

Although Worthington hopes to add Alex Bruce - twice capped by the Republic in friendlies - to the Northern Ireland ranks, the IFA have publicly bemoaned that the ruling has had a destabilising effect on them.

The IFA is today due to appoint 1982 World Cup hero Gerry Armstrong to the role of international player liaison officer, with one of his main tasks being to keep young players in the fold.

"Playing for Northern Ireland is a great honour - we need to make sure players realise that from a young age," Armstrong said in the Belfast Telegraph.

"I'm disappointed in James' decision but maybe this could be one of those scenarios where I intervene. Ultimately it will be Nigel's decision."

In the shorter term, Worthington has now lost three players from his squad for Wednesday's match, with Josh McQuoid and Martin Peterson pulling out through injury.

Worthington said: "It is disappointing to lose players ahead of an important qualifier; but our focus remains on Wednesday night and the players available for the game against the Faroe Islands."

Three of the six forwards originally selected for the Faroes match remain available to Worthington, with Warren Feeney and the recalled Jamie Ward battling to join record scorer David Healy in the starting XI for what is a must-win match in qualification terms.

Have heard very good things about this fella. What are people's thoughts on this?

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Post by WillyGilly Mon 08 Aug 2011, 11:58 am

Another fella stolen from us. Not happy.
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Post by Notch Mon 08 Aug 2011, 12:01 pm

Fair enough. I think, given the situation where Ireland has two national sides, free choice between the two is the way to go.

It seems wrong to prevent someone who holds an Irish passport, full Irish nationality, from representing the Republic of Ireland should they so desire.

Unfortunately this will only serve to aggravate and antagonise many Northern Ireland supporters. Only way to resolve this is with a United Ireland football team. It's not really fair to leave these guys with an awkward decision between their two national sides like this.
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Post by Notch Mon 08 Aug 2011, 12:02 pm

WillyGilly wrote:Another fella stolen from us. Not happy.

Stolen? It was his decision. He's an Irish citizen and he has a right to choose which of the two national sides that represent Ireland he will play for.
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Post by Thomond Mon 08 Aug 2011, 12:03 pm

This guy is incredibly talented. The best player in the LOI this year. I'm disappointed for NI fans as this seems to be happening a lot lately. This guy is one to watch.

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Post by Notch Mon 08 Aug 2011, 12:41 pm

It's worth noting that he hasn't been contacted by Trappatoni or anyone from the Republic of Ireland set-up or FAI, he's taken a decision to reject a Northern Ireland cap in the hopes he can make the grade for the Republic in the future.

This is entirely his own decision, in other words.

I say good luck to him. He's following his dream. Like hundreds of thousands of other young football fans in Northern Ireland, he's always dreamt of representing the Republic of Ireland at international level. He could have gone back on his dream and played for Northern Ireland but he's not given up.
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Post by Thomond Mon 08 Aug 2011, 12:43 pm

If NI were more successful would we see as many players leave? I think that this is having a bit of a bearing on players.

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Post by Notch Mon 08 Aug 2011, 1:07 pm

I don't know. It doesn't seem to be the case in this story.

Maybe some people do think Ireland offer a better chance of playing in a major tournament. And they do. Worthington is a disaster right now, very unpopular.

I think it's more of a unionist/nationalist thing. The reason I hate Ireland being partitioned in football is because it brings politics right into the heart of football in NI. I mean, one teams anthem is 'God Save The Queen' the others is 'Amhran bna Fiann'. It could not be more clearly divisive.

It's always been the case that Northern Ireland simply don't get much support from nationalists who support the Republic of Ireland team. So of course they are going to choose the team they've supported all their lives if they have a free choice.
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Post by Thomond Mon 08 Aug 2011, 2:44 pm

Notch,I only said that as many of these guys played for Northern Ireland at underage,if they wanted to play for the ROI then why didn't they?


Last edited by Thomond on Mon 08 Aug 2011, 6:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by westisbest Mon 08 Aug 2011, 3:04 pm

Hey Notch.

Great respose, very mature, makes a difference from the debate on the old 606.


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Post by Kingshu Wed 10 Aug 2011, 1:21 pm

I think its a simple answer why they play for NI underage and then switch to ROI.
A lot of the players always supported ROI, but ROI hasn't the scouting network up north to pick these players up.

So when they are 16/17 etc NI comes calling saying do you want to play for NI in this competation? Scouts from Wolves, and Blackburn etc will be there.

Any young player is going to jump at that chance (and I don't think anyone can blame them), the problem for NI is however that none of them have any intention of going on and playing for NI at senior level, (and hence the IFA are annoyed that they took the place at under 16/17 etc level, that someone wanting to turn out for the senoir team could have had).

I can't blame the player (as I'd do the same in the hope of getting into a prem team academy), and I can see why the IFA are annoyed at it as well.

However I didn't like the way the IFA went through the courts to try and force a situtation where NI born ROI fans couldn't turn out for their team and would have to play for NI or not at all.

I think the only sensable solution would for the IFA to invite the FAI to scout and recuit players at under age level in the North, it would at least mean that the players that are not going to turn out for NI senior team won't be blocking the path of a player that does. (there would prob be a small number that still switch, but at least the number would be reduced)

Can't see the IFA ever inviting the FAI up to scout, so the problem will continue for the IFA.

Can't blame the player, can't blame the FAI and can't really blame the IFA (as if it works with the FAI and develops closer links, it could lead to calls for an All-Ireland team, (and alot of IFA directors would be out of a job).

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Post by marty2086 Wed 07 Sep 2011, 4:05 pm

A big part of this issue has to do with the setup too, ROI have decent facilities and are better looked after than NI. The whole infrastructure needs work.

Throw in the fact that NI play in Windsor Park and that doesnt help as for many Nationalists its a place that represents an anti-Nationalist past inspite of all the work done to rid it of sectarianism

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